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Where has our sensibility gone

Saba Nayakan Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on June 17, 2012

This was then: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi exult after winning the final at a Chennai Open tournament. The national body for tennis AITA wants them to team for the London Olympics, an expectation wanting in sensibility as thetwo players are not on talking terms now. (file photo)

Two incidents that happened last week have stirred the conscience of sports lovers, so much so that they have become major issues.

The first one is involving a former international track and field star from Bengal Pinky Pramanik who was an integral part of India's 1600-m women relay squad over a period of time. She won gold medals at many international sporting events, including the Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Track and Field and the South Asian Games for almost five years starting from 2002 when she hit the limelight at an inter-district meet in the State.

Such a decorated athlete is now under trial after being accused of raping a woman. The 26-year-old is now facing the biggest fight of her life to save her honour and integrity.

The second incident is concerning the country's two iconic tennis players, Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, once known as “Indian Express” for their exploits as a doubles pair. The two outstanding individuals, who have put India on the world tennis map, individually and as a team, could have been spared of the acute embarrassment the National body, All India Tennis Association (AITA) brought upon them without taking into account their sensibility.

Not in talking terms or in a mental makeup to play together due to differences that are normal between two strong characters, the decision to pair the two at the London Olympics could not have come at a more inappropriate time.

Neither Mahesh nor Leander wanted to play together at the Olympics, an ultimate destination for a sportsperson. Leander is said to have preferred the much younger Rohan Boppanna as his partner. Mahesh too desired to play Rohan but neither he nor Rohan had the required ranking to get into the Games automatically like Leander.

The National selectors, appointed by the AITA, with all their wisdom decided to pair the two warring players contending that the duo had the best chance of winning a medal at the Olympics. History says that the two failed to do much in four attempts. How the selectors or the AITA, which accepted the decision of the panel, came to a conclusion that the pair will be successful on the fifth attempt!

In both the cases, it is clear that the powers that be lacked the sensibility to handle the situation in the right manner taking into account the trio's international achievement and its contribution to the Nation.The Pinky issue needs to be handled with utmost caution and compassion as because she is a woman until proved otherwise. Till such time she should be treated first as a woman and then as an international athlete who has served the country with great commitment.

Both Mahesh and Leander, having excelled as the country's sporting ambassadors for years, need to have a say, however small it may be, when it comes to their involvement. Take the case of Sachin Tendulkar. He enjoyed all the liberty of picking and choosing when to play and when to rest.

If the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has no issues with Sachin's sabbatical, why should not Mahesh and Leander have some say when it comes to their involvement? Why force them to play a losing game that is not going to benefit India?

> saba@thehindu.co.in

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Published on June 17, 2012
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